Tuesday, February 06, 2007

World's oldest newspaper goes digital

STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) - Call it a sign of the times: The world's oldest newspaper still in circulation has dropped its paper edition and now exists only in cyberspace.

Post-och Inrikes Tidningar, founded in 1645 by Sweden's Queen Kristina, became a web-only publication on Jan. 1.

"We think it's a cultural disaster," said Hans Holm, who served as the chief editor of the paper for 20 years. "It is sad when you have worked with it for so long and it has been around for so long."

It's been a long journey for a newspaper started by the queen to keep her subjects informed of the affairs of state. The first editions, which were more like pamphlets, were carried by courier and posted on note boards in cities and towns throughout the kingdom, Holm said.

Today, Post-och Inrikes Tidningar, which means mail and domestic tidings, runs legal announcements by corporations, courts and certain government agencies - about 1,500 a day, according to current editor Olov Vikstrom.

It's not exactly a best seller. The paper edition had a circulation of around 1,000, although the website is expected to attract more readers, Vikstrom said.

The newspaper is owned by the Swedish Academy, known for awarding the annual Nobel Prize in Literature, but the publishing rights were sold recently to the Swedish Companies Registration Office, a government agency.

Despite its online transformation, Post-och Inrikes Tidningar remains No. 1 on a ranking of the oldest newspapers still in circulation compiled by the Paris-based World Association of Newspapers.

"An online newspaper is still a newspaper, so we'll leave it on the list," WAN spokesman Larry Kilman said.

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